DAR-ES-SALAAM, Tanzania, – The Government of the Federal Republic of Tanzania has welcomed and pledged its full support to leading gaming firm SportPesa after it officially rolled out its operations in the country in Dar-es-Salaam on Tuesday.
SportPesa Tanzania was launched at a colourful ceremony at Hyatt Plaza, with the platform going live at 11:55am East African Time (+3GMT) with the company immediately announcing a TSh50m (over USD 22,000) sponsorship for the Serengeti Boys football team that will play at a youth tournament in Gabon.
Chief Guest and Tanzania Minister for Information, Culture and Sport, Dr. Harrison Mwakyembe welcomed the company as a valuable partner in sports development.
“Thank you for seeing enormous potential in Tanzania, not only to promote sport, but also to create employment and enthusiasm in sports.
“I assure you of my ministry’s support, karibu nchi ya michezo (welcome to the country of sports). This is an important and unique chance to develop sports and we will not let this opportunity go,” Mwakyembe told the gathering. The minister attended the function having driven 600km from Dodoma to Dar overnight after presenting the budget proposals for his docket in Parliament. He explained that SportPesa could not have chosen to operate in his country at a better time.
“The General Assembly passed my ministry’s budget estimates after a grueling, tough and marathon debate that started on Friday. People’s representatives are not happy with the speed of development of sport in the country now.
“I thank the MPs for being hard on me. SportPesa is my beacon of hope for developing sport in TZ and maybe next year, they will not give me a hard time,” Mwakyembe emphasised.
Speaking earlier, SportPesa Director of Administration in Tanzania, Abbas Tarimba stated; “We are aiming at altering the face of sports development in the country as part of our vision. I urge Tanzanians to be patient until Saturday when we shall announce formally the teams we will partner with in football.
“Tanzania has many talented Bwana Samatas and we they shall get their chance through training camps because what we say, we shall do. In the next few months, we shall announce big projects in football,” Tarimba promised. Interim Betting Control of Tanzania Director General, James Mbawe, declared SportPesa had been given the license to operate after meeting all stringent regulations of the gaming industry.
“This is great success for Tanzania because it will increase our visibility. We are proud of their coming,” Mbawe added.
He underscored sports gaming was the fastest growing industry in Tanzania, earning the Government TSh21.9bn (over USD 9.79mn) in revenue in the 2015/16 fiscal year, overtaking casinos that brought TSh21.2b (over USD9.48mn) to the exchequer.
“Watching football was a social event four years ago but playing to predict results has established an industry, brought employment and social projects
“The Government realises the benefits. We shall ensure we protect winners, families and Tanzania from any adverse effects of sports gaming,” Mbawe stressed.
All parties will jointly benefit from the existing SportPesa partnerships with big English Premier League clubs such as Arsenal, Southampton and Hull City, the first side in the top division to be shirt-sponsored by an African brand, and hopefully many local partnerships.
SportPesa was established in Kenya in 2014 and has offices in Liverpool, Nairobi and now Dar-es-Salaam.